Early Look: See possibles for the Risen Star, Rachel Alexandra

Early Look: See possibles for the Risen Star, Rachel Alexandra
Photo: Tommy Land / Eclipse Sportswire

On Feb. 18, Louisiana Derby preview day at Fair Grounds will feature a pair of key 3-year-old stakes – the $400,000 Risen Star (G2), which was extended from 1 1/16 to 1 1/8 miles three years ago, and the Rachel Alexandra (G2), for fillies to be contested over 1 1/16 miles.

The top five finishers earn 50-20-15-10-5 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks (G1), respectively.

Four stakes for older horses also will be presented on the Feb. 18 program: the Mineshaft Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles, the Fair Grounds Stakes (G3) at nine furlongs on turf, the Colonel Power Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf and the $100,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

First post for the card will be 1 p.m. EST, and the races will be drawn one week earlier.

Trainer Brad Cox reports that Lecomte (G3) winner Instant Coffee, who is second behind Forte with 32 Kentucky Derby points, will bypass the Risen Star and likely await the Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 25.

According to Fair Grounds racing secretary Scott Jones, Cox is likely to have another entrant or two in the Risen Star. Based on timing and the fact they are on the grounds, Champagne (G1) runner-up and recent Oaklawn allowance winner Verifying and Victory Formation, the undefeated Smarty Jones winner, would appear to be the most likely.

Also according to Jones, trainer Steve Asmussen is likely to have at least one Risen Star participant, most likely from a group that includes Disarm, a maiden winner at second asking at Saratoga who has posted four local works; Echo Again, who pulled up in the Lecomte but posted a five-furlong work on Feb. 2; and the graded-stakes veteran Red Route One, who was last seen finishing second in the Southwest (G3).

Trainer Brendan Walsh reports that Godolphin’s Banishing, an impressive Dec. 26 maiden winner who was scratched from a Jan. 21 allowance race following a minor setback the night before the race, is on target to return in a “Louisiana Derby preview day undercard race”. The son of Ghostzapper returned to the local worktab on Sunday, Feb. 5, logging five furlongs in 1:01.

2023 Risen Star G2

Rachel Alexandra

Nine of the last 26 winners of the Kentucky Oaks also participated in the Rachel Alexandra, including Monomoy Girl (2018) and Serengeti Empress (2019), who recently bagged the double.

2023 Rachel Alexandra G2

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